Saturday, August 16, 2014

Wanted Dispatch Aug 15th....

We Will All Go Down Together by Gemma Files

One of my favorite Canadian authors Gemma Files author of the greathorror western Hexslinger series a few years back has a modern horror offering for readers. This time around here dark imaginings take us to modern day Ontario involving secret sects of witches changelings and such that are the nightmares of many urban fantasy tales. I expect lots of dark and grim events interspersed with equally dark humor and insight. Here is the synopsis. As always I'm exited when ChiZine has a new offering... Here is a link to their website...

 

In the woods outside Overdeere, Ontario, there are trees that speak, a village that doesn’t appear on any map and a hill that opens wide, entrapping unwary travellers. Music drifts up from deep underground, while dreams—and nightmares—take on solid shape, flitting through the darkness. It’s a place most people usually know better than to go, at least locally—until tonight, at least, when five bloodlines mired in ancient strife will finally converge once more.

Devize, Glouwer, Rusk, Druir, Roke—these are the clans who make up the notorious Five-Family Coven. Four hundred years ago, this alliance of witches, changelings, and sorcerers sought to ruin and recreate the Earth in their own image, thwarted at the last only by treachery that sent half of them to be burned alive. Driven apart by rage and hatred, their descendants have continued to feud, intermarry, and breed with each other throughout the centuries, their mutual dislike becoming ever more destructively intimate.

But now, from downtown Toronto to the wilds beyond, where reality’s walls grow thin, dark forces are drawing the Coven’s last heirs to a final confrontation. Psychics, ex-possessees, defrocked changeling priests, shamans for hire, body-stealing witches, and monster-slaying nuns—the bastard children of a thousand evil angels—all are haunted by a ghost beyond any one person’s power to exorcize unless they agree to stand together once more, at least long enough to wreak vengeance upon themselves.

The Godless by Ben Peek

Between City of Stairs , the new book by Robert Jackson Bennett, which involves a world where the gods have been killed and this novel where the gods are dead or dying I think fantasy novels are treading some interesting metaphysical ground. It doesn't hurt that Jeff Vandermeer has blurbed this even if its an odd one in attracting my attention and the fact that tor.com posted sample chapters to view here doesn't hurt either. Here is a bit of synopsis...

The Gods are dying. Fifteen thousand years after the end of their war, their bodies can still be found across the world. They kneel in forests, lie beneath mountains, and rest at the bottom of the world’s ocean. For thousands of years, men and women have awoken with strange powers that are derived from their bodies.

The city Mireea is built against a huge stone wall that stretches across a vast mountain range, following the massive fallen body of the god, Ger. Ayae, a young cartographer’s apprentice, is attacked and discovers she cannot be harmed by fire. Her new power makes her a target for an army that is marching on Mireea. With the help of Zaifyr, a strange man adorned with charms, she is taught the awful history of ‘cursed’ men and women, coming to grips with her new powers and the enemies they make. Meanwhile, the saboteur Bueralan infiltrates the army that is approaching her home to learn its terrible secret...

 

 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Somewhere through the wardrobe....

 

The Magician's Land brings Lev Grossman's adult love letter to portal fantasies and magical academies to a fantastic and thoughtful close. Wether your fond childhoods fantasy memories are from over the rainbow, down the rabbit hole, through the looking glass or departing from a number 9 and 1/2 the worlds he dreamed up will be sure to be familiar and manages binds all those stories together. Lev explores the rocky territory of adulthood with all the disappointments, loss and regrets through the continues journeys of Quentin Coldwater, the character from Breakbills and out of Fillory as they make their way either I the real world or the fantastic without magic ever becoming a get out of jail mfree card. I can say this novel endeared me to his creations and succeeds brilliant by itself because its the only one I have as of yet read and given my enjoyment of it I'll be soon fixing that oversight. I've often heard the series called Harry Potter for adults but this one novel showed me its much more, its a fond look back to those stories of childhood than manages not to get stuck in nostalgia or grim remakings of the same.

The novel follows two separate stories the first following Quentin who has been exiled from the magical land back into the real world and the other about the adventures of his friends who now rule the land of Fillory that was in the last volume aparently his. Quentin's tale is as much about the caper he becomes part of as the novel opens as it is about him trying to come to terms with the multiple losses he suffers. Though still a magician if a mediocre he he was ousted from his childhood dream home, separated from his friends as well as the real world losses that we learn of as the story progresses to being us up to date. For all the sadness that these events cause this part of the book contains a lot of the magic in the story, the alchemy of taking the lot you have and finding the formula that makes it a life worth living.

The Fillory adventures include fighting off an invasion, learning of a comming apocalypse and taking up of heroic quests and though these are stapes of the portal fantasy the thrust of these stories become a travelogue with much ado about talking. Lev makes great use of language and pacing to offset the stories from one another and the dichotomies between the magical realm and the real one feel afterwards not the ones I'd have expected. Elliot, Julia, Poppy and Josh are living there now and lev does a great job of normalizing the fantastic the way they read are as if its normal not as wide eyed tourists. I would not say he makes it more adultish or even sees things through a cynical adult eye but it has a quality of difference that goes beyond mearly grittifying things and adding swearing and sex to old familiar kids stories.

The Magician's Land introduced me to characters I very much would love to have more time with, took me to places that were filled with wonder and not all of because they were magical in nature. He reminded me of stories that I thought I knew, heard and half remember from my own childhood and that is why for me it worked so well on its own; Lev's obvious fondness for the mythical figures of his childhood shine through as do his creations inspired by the likes of Lewis Caroll, Frank L Baum, J M Barry to name just a few. The Magician's Land which is part caper part quest and part aplocalypse plot wise is more about the human spirit finding its way through loss and regret that comes with adulthood yet ultimately never loses a sense of wonder. Much like Neil Gaiman's Ocean at the End of the Lane this novel shows and author who can write a kids story for adults that can remind you what it was like to be a kid but see it with new eyes and appreciate the wonder for its own sake. This is one of the books I will be recommending without much reserve, it has a lot of heart, delivers on its promises and like portal fantasies makes you want just one more trip after the last page is turned. This is the kind of been that even not a follower of the series is worth having and possibly even have it in hard cover.

 

Now where are those Fillory books ... I must have copies somewhere in all by boxes of books....

 

 

 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Wanted Dispatch... August 5 2014

(hopefully a return to my regular feature to spotlight books coming out ... hopefully to return to its regular Saturday spot....writer crosses fingers...)

Assail by Ian C Esslemont

For people unfamiliar with the Malazan series of epic fantasy novels this may not be the right place to start but Ian's storytelling is often strong enough so unfamiliarity may not be too big an issue. Assail promises to explore some of the less seen but oft talked about places in the world and may reveal some of the more intriguing pieces of history and legends in their magnificent world. With the main series written by Steven Erikson being over this is a series that may be off people's radar and that is a shame given the wealth of myths that they created for their worlds. If you want to sample Assail here is a link to the tor.com site. Here is the synopsis...

Tens of thousands of years of ice is melting, and the land of Assail, long a byword for menace and inaccessibility, is at last yielding its secrets. Tales of gold discovered in the region’s north circulate in every waterfront dive and sailor’s tavern, and now countless adventurers and fortune-seekers have set sail in search of riches.

Into this turmoil ventures the mercenary company, the Crimson Guard. Not drawn by contract, but by the promise of answers: answers to mysteries that Shimmer, second in command, wonders should even be sought.

Arriving also, part of an uneasy alliance of Malazan fortune-hunters and Letherii soldiery, comes the bard Fisher kel Tath. And with him is a Tiste Andii who was found washed ashore and cannot remember his past life, yet who commands far more power than he really should. Also venturing north is said to be a mighty champion, a man who once fought for the Malazans, the bearer of a sword that slays gods: Whiteblade.

And lastly, far to the south, a woman guards the shore awaiting both her allies and her enemies. Silverfox, newly incarnated Summoner of the undying army of the T’lan Imass, will do anything to stop the renewal of an ages-old crusade that could lay waste to the entire continent and beyond.

 

The Widow's House by Daniel Abraham

Another fine epic fantasy that may have not gotten attention is the Coin and the Dagger series which began a couple years back with The Dragons Path. Daniel has a real love for the genre and has taken many of his favorite aspects from the genre and blended them with his far reaching imagination to produce this gem of a series. Like GRRM his characters are fully formed having dreams and goals far beyond achieving some quest or fulfilling some vague prophecy and best of all they do not play close to type. Villains in his stories don't commit evil for the sake of being the bad guy as readers you can see and understand their actions heinous though they may be. I've fallen behind on this series as time has gone by but knowing this unique world is out there to revisit is a good thing. The endorsement at the top from Martin goes beyond just a quote since he chose Daniel to write the comic adaptation for Game of Thrones. Here is a link to a sample chapter of this complex character driven fantasy...

 

Broken Souls by Stephen Blackmoore

When it comes to urban fantasy my tastes tend to run to crime noir edge of the pool and Stephen Blackmoore is possibly one of the more entertaining finds in that area outside of Chuck Wendig. Stephen has a particularly dark sense of humor and I've been looking forward to a follow up to last years novel Dead Things which introduced necromancer Eric Carter. Looking at the description of this along with the list of writers who blurbed this they would have had me with necromancer and Aztec death goddess alone. You can go here to read about it and click through to an excerpt...

 

Throne & Bones Frostborn by Lou Anders

Lou Anders first novel is something I've been waiting years for since having heard he was working on one. As an editor Lou can pretty much do no wrong in choosing novels or short fiction that is going to be just my kind of thing and this Norse/Viking myth inspired book I expect to be pretty much the same. I don't know I may be setting my sights pretty high but I expect great things from this YA adventure novel and hope to be recommending it wholeheartedly at the store that I work at. Here is a link to Lou's website with a synopsis.. And a further link to Random House's site where there is apparently an excerpt....

 

The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman

Ok, not that Mr. Grossman needs much signal boost for his series about Quentin Coldwater and the magical land of Fillory but I feel I have to add this along with e fantasy section here. I for one missed volumes one and two and chanced into reviewing volume three and given I am familiar with Portal fantasies I found this third in a series quite readable on its own. I will hit up a full review later this week but suffice to say it was a great mix of moral quandaries, capers, quests and apocalyptic battles as one might expect from a final volume in a series. Here is a link to synopsis and such.... I would ask you to pursue getting yours at a local Indy shop rather then one of the bigger venues...

 

 

 

Arrows of Time by Greg Egan

Like he Magicians Land Arrows of Time is the final book in a series; this though is a hard science fiction tale set in a universe where traveling at near the speed of light makes time go faster for the travelers rather then the people who remain behind. Its a bizarre reverse of our physics and is a compelling setting with its own set of problems and dynamics. Its a series that almost got lost when Nightshade Books near imploded and I'm glad to say it didn't get sucked into that abyss. If you want to read an excerpt go to tor.com here... And what follows is a bit of synopsis...

In an alien universe where space and time play by different rules, interstellar voyages last longer for the travellers than for those they left behind. After six generations in flight, the inhabitants of the mountain-sized spacecraft the Peerless have used their borrowed time to develop advanced technology that could save their home world from annihilation.

But not every traveller feels allegiance to a world they have never seen, and as tensions mount over the risks of turning the ship around and starting the long voyage home, a new complication arises: the prospect of constructing a messaging system that will give the Peerless news of its own future.

Greg Egan’s The Arrows of Time is the final volume of the Orthogonal trilogy.....

So I have a few more but those will have to wait till tomorrow....

 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Forever Buddy Drama...

Forever Evil collected edition by Geoff Johns and Daniel Fitch

Last year in the fall DC comics stirred up their New 52 universe by introducing the new version of the a Crime Syndicate from the pre crisis era DC. This evil version of the Justice League arrives and claims to have killed the Justice Leage and now rule the world. This seven issue series spotlighted the villains of the DC universe particularly Lex Luthor as the heroes of the story; much of the narration of this tale is from his voice. For me the book certainly has its moments and though I didn't love it I did like it enough to reccommend it to DC comic fans who have been a little let down by the recent reboot of the universe.

For the uninitiated the Crime Syndicate is the evil mirror versions of the Justice League; Ultraman/Superman, Superwoman/Wonder Woman, Owlman/Batman, Power Ring/Green Lantern, Jonny Quick/ Flash and adds Deathstorm/Firestorm, Atomica/Atom, Grid/Cyborg to the mix respectively with compareible powers if darker and more bent personalities. Though its cool to see these characters again since their last appearances the cast of other ne'er do wells that are the stars of this boob is pretty big for this book give the old earth 3 villains little time in the spotlight. Surprisingly Grid, one of the new creations who is the creepy counterpart/part of Cyborg, felt like he most personality overall having more interactions with the other syndicate members than the rest. The characters that really shone in this story were Lex Luthor, his creation B-zero (yup its who you think), Captain Cold and Black Manta with a backup band of Black Atom, Sinestro, who have their cool moments too. There are Hero's in evidence but they amount to hostages and mere bit players in my opinion like many villains are in their books.

So why would you want to read a book that stars the heel? Well, Lex is a heel don't get me wrong he may do an overall good in this book but his some of his action show he's still the loveible self centered sociopath he's always been. Johns makes him if not heroic pragmatic because he has no intention of bending knee to the Syndicate and as it turns out he is not the only one. To let you all know I have been enjoying the villain centric books recently like Magneto, Sinestro, and the Superior Foes of Spider-Man so its likely no surprise I like this one too. Lex who tells most of the story in his own voice tells a lot about himself, he knows how people think about him and over the course of the seven issues I got a feeling he learned that though he thinks he knows himself the person that comes out of the experience of fighting alongside his creation and other he has changed if just a bit. That is the strength of the story, the growth that happens to the players. I was saddened by so,e of the outcomes and am really tempted to follow the further adventurs of Lex and Captain cold as part of the new justice league. There are a few kitchy surprises in Forever Evil and some of the bit players, those being the overexposed Batman and his partner here, Catwoman have some nice characterful interchanges.

The art by David Fitch is as exaggerated as you might expect for someone who started his career working for image but his style has grown over the years and developed into something very fun to look at. His faces are expressive and saying he made a character who basically all mechanical like Grids emotive might say its all on that front. The art tends towards dark and moody with many scenes taking place in caves, sewers tunnels and cities in a state of disrepair and balances that with bombastic displays of power, flames and lightning all those pretty energy blast colors so its funny that the things that win the day are subtleties. Its a very lice book to look at and his redesigns of the characters are great since they include a sketchbook section.

All in all Johns and Fitch give good treatment to this tale about how the bad guys can be the heroes too because well they have to live in this world too and well some things are unacceptable even if your the bad guy. The last few pages sets up future stories, some of the syndicate are still out there and there is something darker on the horizon. Maybe it didn't hit on all cylinders for me but if you like to see a cool buddy story between a man and his monster doing right this should be on your list. Forever Evil collected edition is out September 9th from DC comics in hardcover.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Dynamic Duo

All round one of the best DC comics I have read in years; it was conceived long before the New 52 and it was as enjoyable for if not more so then the the new 52s Green Lantern that ended Geoff Johns run and th aren Red Lanterns book. Bloodspell takes two of DC's long extant fishnet wearing heroines and gives them both the opportunity to have real character agency and does it with truly georgeous art and style. This book brought me joy as a comics reader for more then just its exiting and fun story that avoided the grim and dark that has gripped the new DC; Dini and Quinoes have a real grasp for DC's long and rich history and delivers hints of it throughout the story, art and even page layouts.

The story is one that mixes just a few story elements and comes out with something glorious like the best Italian and Indian recipes that not have five ingredients or less. The story that brings them together starts with a foiled caper in Las Vegas where Black Canary goes undercover and gets trapped in a magical curse. The story may lean towards slapstick at times but the stakes are at the highest, lives are at stake. Among some pretty hideous offscreen deaths Satanna gets pulled into the story when Dinah goes to her for help realizing what she faces is beyond her ken. Along the way we get a road tale that includes flashbacks that refer to different eras, styles and costumes across DC history as it was. Bloodspell for me is a bit of a love letter to the past and makes me want more of this duo, this fishnet duo.

Paul Dini and Joe Quinones apparently originally pitched this sometime in 2005 and its a great thing to have this stand alone team up tale spotlighting these versions of the characters. The story takes Black Canary and Zatanna their pre heroine days meeting in the Himalayan alps to their then current adventuring lives Zatanna on her own and Dinah as partner to Green Arrow in his goatee style era. The story has the fun tongue in cheek yet serious action that Paul Dini does so well and the art by Joe Quinones somehow straddles that gap between realism and warner brothers cartoonish ness that few artists pull off so well. This is one of those books that pops off the pages in ways 3d comics desperately aspire to. And though I got the opportunity to read this as an advance reader I'm more then tempted to get a real copy because I seldom see a project like this that seemed produced with so much love and care; the book includes the pitch, the script, unfinished pages and design work. Its too good to pass up for fans of female character written so well and for art so detail rich and lovingly rendered.

This edition collects not just the story and its glorious art and story, they give us the initial pitch, the script which is hardly ever included and design work from Joe so this book is like a blue ray disk version of the book. If you love comics with heart that will give you much more then the usual this is one to have especially if your familiar with DC history all the better. Five stars out of five. Bravo....

 

 

 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mindless ones and Z-listers

 

So I know there will be lots of reviews and thoughts on this out there and since I love comics and particularly enjoyed this and the zero issue of Original Sin I thought why not add some reviewey comments to the mix. Jason Aaron pulled some particularly nice bits of storytelling together I. This issue given how crowded it was and managed to move both his story and they mysteries along quite well. He manages to hit most of his cast and throws in the a whole heap of monsters and some little used characters along the way. He writes some great dialogue along the way that winds up being both characterful and funny as well as drives the story along. Some of the "mystery figures" from issue one are revealed and many many more questions are raised. Mike's are is solid pretty much throughout and clear despite the mood lighting in some scenes and the opening scenes following Black Panther, the White Queen and Antman into the monster graveyard (the preview has been up a while that shows this but apologies none the less for spoilers.

It left me quite happily entertained and looking forward to leaning more about what is going on. Just enough was revealed to give me some hints as to the timing of the so called original sin and I'm really interested to see how it all its together. Also seeing some truly obscure seventies characters come out of the woodwork was pretty fun; it made me look again at some of the murkier scenes from issue one. Truely this one is aces if you have a grasp of some marvel history and this makes me want to get some of the pre superhero boom marvels....

So yeah I'd say this is one crossoverey story can reccommend. Though issue one felt a bit crowded and not quite there between the touching zero issue starring the new Nova Sam Alexander and this one I'd so get into Nick's flying car for this ride....

Five stars out of five.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok that's a bit of room just in case

 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Wanted Dispatch May 6 2014

The Silk Map by Chris Willrich

Ok wow crap... Was so sure I wrote and posted a great review of Chris's first book The Scroll of Years because of how damn much I loved it and I can not seem to find any record of it either saved or on the blog. The book was an absolutely amazing mix of sword and sorcery caper story and mature characterful romance along the lines of my favorite book to reccommend these days Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed. Chris has taked characters from a westernish setting and put the. In a Silk Road fantasy setting. I can't say mucho out the second volume since it so reveals too much about the first. From the memories I have of Scroll of Years I expect more of the touching story revolving around the affection, respect and pain that bonds the cast of fastinating characters together. I must re read it and write a proper review of the first Gaunt and Bone novel....

Here is a link to Chris' site and the synopsis of this volume but a warning totall spoilers follow...

At the end of The Scroll of Years, the poet Persimmon Gaunt and her husband, the thief Imago Bone, had saved their child from evil forces at the price of trapping him within a pocket dimension. Now they will attempt what seems impossible; they will seek a way to recover their son. Allied with Snow Pine, a scrappy bandit who’s also lost her child to the Scroll of Years, Gaunt and Bone awaken the Great Sage, a monkeylike demigod of the East, currently trapped by vaster powers beneath a mountain. The Sage knows of a way to reach the Scroll — but there is a price. The three must seek the world’s greatest treasure and bring it back to him. They must find the worms of the alien Iron Moths, whose cocoons produce the wondrous material ironsilk.

And so the rogues join a grand contest waged along three thousand miles of dangerous and alluring trade routes between East and West. For many parties have simultaneously uncovered fragments of the Silk Map, a document pointing the way toward a nest of the Iron Moths. Our heroes tangle with Western treasure hunters, a blind mystic warrior and his homicidal magic carpet, a nomad princess determined to rebuild her father’s empire, and a secret society obsessed with guarding the lost paradise where the Moths are found — even if paradise must be protected by murder.

The Oversight by Charlie Fletcher

Orbit books has the best luck when it comes to finding talented authors to publish. Oversight almost slipped my notice till I was looking at the books that they have coming out over the next season. This is another book set in what seems to be becoming a very overpopulated Victorian era though this time eschewing the regular steam and gear powered devices for the occult and staring a dwindling group of heroes protecting the normals from magical things. In reading the sample chapters you get a feel for the Charlie's writing which like many British authors assumes readers are able to get the gist without too much exposition. As a fan of alternate histories this one is pretty high on my read it soon list.

Here is a link to a era is from Tor.com and a short synopsis....also why not a link to the excerpt on orbits site too....

"The end always happens faster than you think."

Once there were hundreds of members of the Oversight, the brave souls who guard the borders between the mundane and the magic. Now there are only five.

When a vagabond brings a screaming girl to the Oversight's London headquarters, she could answer their hopes for new recruit, or she could be the instrument of their downfall.